Living in land-locked Colorado, we might not expect Front Range cooks to spend a whole lot of kitchen time on fish. Sure we can bring home a few trout now and again — under 16 inches and no more than four at a time — and there are, of course, some other fish in our state. Sometimes we even order online or great fishing friends gift us a few fillets after a lucky trip. Overall, though, we’re mostly limited to buying our dinner fish at the nearest grocery, warehouse, or specialty-food store. It turns out, the warehouse buy is not such a bad deal. The prices aren’t too awfully difficult and you might as well buy frozen fish from the frozen department. It’s less expensive, often flash-frozen at sea, and most likely the fish behind the counter in the grocery seafood department was once frozen, too. For real savings and ease, I buy a bag of frozen, individually cryovaced fillets now and again, most recently mahi mahi –in Hawaiian, it means strong-strong — that came in under $30 for three pounds.
If you’re a regular reader, you might have read about the fish fajitas I made last week and yes, you guessed it, they’re mahi-mahi. Ready for FRIDAY FISH soup this week, I popped out two more 8-ounce fillets to make an herby and creamy chowder with a nice hint of tomato and an itty-bitty kick. Filling and healthy with chickpeas instead of the typical chowder potatoes, this vegetable-laden, high fiber, high protein stew comes together quickly and might take the place of clam chowder in your foreseeable future. Crusty bread? Butter? Cold oaky Chardonnay? Yes, please do!
You know how when you eat with that same someone in various restaurants over the years, you can nearly look at the menu and figure out what they’ll order? “I knew you’d get that.” Hm. Right again. Such smugness. It’s not totally always, but my husband will regularly choose the fish tacos should they have, like magic (not), appeared on the list. And if he has a choice of beans (pintos or black), he’ll choose black even though at home he swears by my pinto beans. So if I’m one smart cookie, I’ll keep nearly-always-the-choice fish tacos on permanent rotation at our house. And I do. But they need a little tweaking or updating from year to year, especially during FRIDAY FISH weeks. This time, not only did they morph into “Fish Fajitas,” but they’re made in the air fryer. Because I could. But could you bake them in the oven? (See recipe) Of course. Might you fry them in oil? Sure. But I hope you’ll choose the air fryer method. It’s fast; it’s healthy; it’s fun.
This year, when I began to dream about FRIDAY FISH recipes for Lent, I realized that while I hadn’t run out of fish and seafood ideas after fourteen years of food blogging, I did need to do a little planning to make sure I didn’t get seven special company meals or even five fish sandwiches and two seafood chowders. So I jotted down a few ideas (click on the photo at left), wondering if it made sense to go with one soup, one appetizer, one sandwich, and so on. To even things out a bit. I could have made a list of salmon, crab, canned tuna, cod, tilapia, flounder…and that would have been fine, too. But so far, my little dreaming note has worked, though there are only 5 dishes listed to date. Ok, then. I’ll still be thinking.
Ash Wednesday and Lent 2023: WHY DO PEOPLE FAST?/VOX
The thought of stirring a slew of chopped shrimp into my green chile-pimento cheese was born because there was a bag of frozen cooked shrimp in my garage freezer that needed using. I couldn’t imagine shrimpy pimento cheese could be anything but luscious — also versatile — and at the very first turn, I knew I’d struck gold. Shrimp Green Chile-Pimento Cheese is an easy (if not simple) appetizer or sandwich spread or omelet filling that makes a generous quart so you can freeze a pint for the next time friends come to dinner or when you need something to take in the car cooler to have with crackers and a cold beer in the hotel room. My seasoning leaves you with a brief smiley buzz in the mouth but you can ramp that up by doubling the crushed red pepper or adding Tabasco. To decide on your heat level, think about how you’ll use this cheese. Bread will dumb down the heat if you’re making a sandwich but should you dip it up with celery sticks or cucumber rounds, you’ll witness lots more warmth. Your choice.
Welcome to FRIDAY FISH, 2023! I’ll take any of you along on my journey and be glad for the company. This is the 10th year I’ve created seven weeks of new fish and seafood recipes for FRIDAY FISH during Lent. If you’d like to see previous years’ recipes, click on “Friday Fish” or “Fish and Seafood” or a specific like “Salmon“ or “Tuna” in the subject cloud. Happy fishing!
We don’t typically think about fish for breakfast first off. Not too often, but there are moments. Bear with me. Consider…. Grilled trout over an open fire while on a fishing or camping trip. Roasted salmon on a creamy benedict along with a mimosa in a swanky restaurant with a view. And, if you read the Christian bible, didn’t Jesus cook fish for the disciples? (You could check John 21.) Even here on the blog, we’ve happily consumed Shrimp and Green Chile Quiche or Smoked Salmon Frittata with Horseradish Yogurt. And so, over the last several weeks as I’ve sussed out ways to increase my breakfast protein grams, I’ve more than once ran out to the garage pantry for a can of tuna, later falling in love with the fresh layered morning treat of a meal. Open-faced breakfast sandwiches like benedicts spell fat, calories, and cash but think about a similar dish where low-fat fish protein, fresh tomatoes, and eggs are the stars rather than hollandaise and smoked ham. Not that I don’t like hollandaise or ham (you know me), but it’s a once in a blue moon thing, right? Here, we go with a marinara plus a tish of Parmigiano-Reggiano to set off our tuna and I’m talking healthy enough for every day. You still get your egg(s); you for sure will have an English muffin. Do go for whole wheat or high fiber. This is happy enough to keep you totally full until lunchtime. Fast enough that you’re eating in five minutes. Maybe even feeding your best sous or partner, too. Keep your mind open. If I made this for you, you’d eat it. Honest engine.
Sheet pan dinners have earned their popular place in the kitchen over the last several years and love them I do. But for couples and singles, that’s a lot of food — even if you’re a leftovers type person. Back in December of 2022, I promised you a few more quarter-sheet pan meals and because I make good on my promises, here’s post #3. The quarter-sheet pan, at just 9″x 13″, is the baby bear of the sheet pan group and is perfect for smaller recipes–like today’s nearly effortless Salsa Chicken Dinner for Two with Cheesy Potatoes and Broccoli.
Last year, I made a ham for Super Bowl Sunday and was never happier than I was with that choice for a big game day spread. Rolls and biscuits, butter (think a sorta-kinda American jambon-buerre, though ham and biscuits -with butter- is a world unto itself in the American south), spicy mustard, all the cheese you’d need, and tons of pickles. A few basic sides…oh, wings, of course… and we were good to go. But the best part may have been what came a couple of days after the baked ham, which was a big pot of ham and beans with a fresh pan of hot cornbread.
While I’m not a football fan, I’m happy to provide the halftime food, reading the Sunday New York Times for the rest of the afternoon while everyone else yells at the tv. And if you’re skipping game day all together, as some do, you can still make my ham and beans because they’re good just about any time and not much is simpler to cook or clean up as it’s a one-pot meal.
Totally a winter person, I’m never happier than when I get up early to find the world frozen solid with snowflakes dancing down in the glorious mist. Once the coffee is made, I cast my eyes around the kitchen to see what’s available to bake for breakfast. Who doesn’t want to turn the oven on when the windchill is below zero? This morning, I saw I had way over two hours before it was time to leave for worship (if we made it – the roads were looking slick) and quickly zeroed in on a bunch of blackening bananas. Banana Bread it was, but it needed to be banana bread with a healthy twist. Yes, I’m on a roll. Bad pun there.
At our house, a wedge salad shows up most often in the good ol’ summertime. One week there’s a run on BLTs and the next, wedge salads begin to appear at the side of grilled burgers or chops. There’s no good reason not have them come winter, but maybe it’s about tomatoes? I would, however, be the first person to tell you homegrown Colorado tomatoes are not so terribly wonderful even in high summer. So, no. They are not Illinois tomatoes, nor are they New Jersey tomatoes. They crack from overwatering or they wait for October snows only to be ushered into the house for a very sad and slow paper bag ripening. Sometimes they’re ready (or rotted) by Thanksgiving. That said, I’ve not a true complaint as I keep a large carton of Campari tomatoes on hand 52 weeks a year. Which is why, once in a happy while during January, a summer-ish wedge makes an appearance on our dinner table, much to my husband’s thrilled amazement and big-eyed wonder. (He’s a big wedge fan because #1 he loves blue cheese and #2 he loves bacon more. If there’s a wedge on a restaurant menu, he’ll order it. Almost always.) And when I was pondering all of this the other day, ready for our January splurge, I wondered why we couldn’t have a wedge for breakfast? I love eggs with any vegetables; you might remember. I mean, nearly everyone eats Huevos Rancheros with lettuce and tomato, don’t they? Some breakfast tacos come with shredded lettuce and tiny diced tomatoes, too. What about veggie benedicts? Our favorite breakfast place serves a ton of salads with fried eggs, or avocado toast, or omelets. And anyway, bacon — a main wedge ingredient — is for sure breakfast food. So why not a BREAKFAST WEDGE? A nice hunk of blue-cheesy lettuce and some lacy fried eggs. Really crisp bacon. I couldn’t stop thinking about the idea. Maybe a side of UK grilled mushrooms and tomatoes?
If you’re like lots of other folks come January, you might be cutting back on this or that–maybe carbs, red meat, fat, sugar, or alcohol. Or did you make a commitment to increase your veggies? Sigh. Same here; I’m watching what’s going in with the hope of making up for the few extra pieces of bread and glasses of wine I enjoyed during the Mexican cruise. But there’s no need to suffer and every reason to adore the meals meant to increase health and decrease the waistline. This Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Broccoli Bean Bowl (how do I name these things?) is a new favorite at our house and because it’s made up of mostly pantry and colorful vegetable bin ingredients, it goes together pretty quickly and fills you up. While the Brussels sprouts and broccoli roast, there’s time to chop the rest of the vegetables and grab the last few ingredients that serve as a dressing. Garnishes of juicy cherry tomatoes and perky olives top the whole thing off and, while I didn’t think hard about it at first, this vegetable-heavy meal scores at the checkout, too at about $4 or less per serving (depending on how you make it or which sales you hit.) And if that’s not enough, you’re getting about 15 grams of protein in each 2-cup serving! Between the tender-crisp roasted sprouts and broccoli, the crunchy fresh vegetables, the creamy beans, the bright lemon, and the briny high notes, my bowl sings of balance, textural difference, and colorful vibrance. Since the ingredient list isn’t terribly short (chop, chop, chop), I offer a quicker option without a few of the fresh vegetables. (Perhaps as a side for a game day spread? Add feta for fun.) Many home cooks look at long ingredient lists and quickly move on, so I offer this option if that’s you. I keep any number of vegetables at one time because I like God’s own garden in my salads and a mixed variety of choices for dinner without making another grocery run. And, as a mostly retired person, I don’t mind lots of chopping. I know not everyone is like that. Ti piace, as my choral conducting professor at University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, Minnesota) used to say. You like it! Do as you please. Make it just the way you want it. (Or, as we Americans might say, “do it your way.”) Ti piace always sounded better!
In December, I promised you I’d have a few more Quarter-Sheet Pan Dinners and, right on time a month later, here’s the next! If you’re like me, you’re ready to put the holidays in the rear view window and have something different to eat after those big meals and all of those leftovers. (Do you have cookies in the freezer?! I do. Ok; we’re good. And you’ll guess our tree is up until Epiphany.) This week’s quarter-sheet pan meal features a simply seasoned pair of thick, bone-in pork chops paired with some fresh beans, thyme, red onions and thinly sliced sweet potato. A fast searing of the chops on the stovetop and the whole shebang slides into the oven for all of 20 minutes while you pour the wine, chat with a friend, or watch a little bit of the new, fab PBS News Hour. (I’m going to miss Judy Woodruff so!) With hardly any work — isn’t that what the oven’s for?–you have a gorgeous, real-deal dinner quick like a bunny. And, wink-wink, this doesn’t feed 4, 6, or 8; it makes just a couple of servings. Exactly what you or someone you know needed.